For years I have heard about people’s experiences at the Great Easter Vigil – so this year, I decided I would make the commitment to go myself. At the Society of St. John the Evangelist Monastery (SSJE), where I worship regularly, the Easter Vigil begins at 4:30 a.m. Wow – that meant I had to leave Boxborough at 3:30 a.m. in order to pick up a friend on the way, and get to SSJE on time.
I went to bed earlier than usual so I could get at least a few good hours of sleep – knowing that we would be driving to CT after worship to spend Easter Day with family. I awoke with a start at 1:30, afraid I had slept through the 2 alarms I had set. I fitfully slept until both alarms went off, quickly got dressed, and headed out the front door.
When I walked through the door, my mind was busy thinking and wondering about what I would experience at the Easter Vigil. But I was greeted with a world that captured my attention right then and there. The almost full moon was high in the sky, the trees casting shadows on the front walk as I headed to the car. The din of daytime was nearly silent, the air cool and crisp. Starting my car felt so loud – I hated to disrupt the silent wonder that was enveloping me.
I headed down our road and past the horse farm. So silently the horses stood – sentinels in the night; chewing, standing, looking. I got to the main road – no cars – just a long view of the road ahead. I drove by the pizza shop, soda machines casting a harsh light in the dark interior. The house next door to the pizza shop had a candle lit in the window. It made me wonder . . . There was one light on at the Police Station – who is on duty, there to respond if anyone needed help. Our friend George’s grow lights were on in his living room – warming and urging his tomato seedlings to sprout and flourish. I got to the usually busy and crowded highway – just one set of headlights coming from the opposite direction.
In this pre-dawn world, I sensed the power of being in the moment – alone and aware of things I never see in daylight. I experienced the freedom of not having to worry about how I was seen . . . only that I was seen by the Presence that is before and after everything we work so hard to produce.
It all got me to thinking . . . how much time and effort we spend thinking ahead . . . about the next goal, the next need, the next demand. It got me to thinking how much time we spend preparing to meet the world – clothing, makeup, polish, plans. And I wonder about the ways I might filter less, and open more to the unfiltered Love and Presence that was . . . and is . . . in all things . . . and so beautifully ‘seen’ in the darkness.